A Gallup poll from earlier in March had President Barack Obama's approval rating at 50 percent, and the Gallup tracking poll -- which tracks daily fluctuations in his approval rating -- has recently risen to 53 percent.
It's the highest his approval rating has been since May 2013, according to New York Magazine's Claire Landsbaum, and it has almost universally been attributed to the current state of the 2016 election.
Recent articles on Vox and New York Magazine, among others, have put forth more or less the same theory: the current presidential candidates and the messy state of the primaries have made Obama look statesmanlike by comparison.
There are several problems with this theory. First, it ignores too many factors outside of the immediate political landscape, and it also glosses over the enormous political divisions in this country which are currently roiling both the Democratic and Republican parties in the primaries.
It is easy to say the recent antics of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and his rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have contributed to Obama's high approval ratings. The Republican race has turned into a circus and the rivalry between Trump and Cruz has become bitterly personal. The nude photos of Trump's wife, Melania, Trump's insulting tweets about Cruz's wife, Heidi, the allegations of adultery against Cruz -- there is no doubt that this is diminishing the Republican Party in the eyes of many voters.
But that does not immediately translate into an increase in Obama's approval rating. It may have some effect, but as Inquisitr's Aric Mitchell notes, Gallup polling is highly partisan and certainly does not reflect voter participation or preferences in the 2016 election at the national level.
Just look at the primaries thus far: Trump has consistently defeated the other GOP presidential candidates, showing that his popularity is still firmly intact among Republican voters. On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has been a highly vocal critic of Obama's policies, and yet, he has gained enormous popularity despite being an underdog from the beginning and refusing to take Super PAC money.
More likely, Obama's recently high approval ratings are the confluence of several factors, of which the 2016 election is only one. The economy has been slowly and steadily improving in the United States in 2015, despite earlier turbulence in the stock market. Obama's recent trips to Cuba and Argentina have almost certainly raised his profile with certain parts of the Democratic base, while the negative publicity surrounding Obama's trips -- namely, that he remained in Cuba during the aftermath of the Brussels bombing --- most likely only reached those who are already opposed to Obama.
Political events and institutions affect each other, and there is no doubt that the 2016 election has had some effect on Obama's approval ratings. In particular, Trump's low approval rating among women voters compared Obama's 58 percent approval rating in this demographic may have something to do with Trump's attacks on Cruz' wife.
But there is so much more going on, such as pointed challenges to the Democratic and Republican establishments in the primaries and continued troubles in the Middle East and in Europe. These have all certainly affected Obama's approval ratings among his supporters and opponents alike, and his approval rating is bound to change again before the November election.